Day Twelve: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon
Day Twelve’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.
Day Twelve’s Twist: Include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.
Sometimes Following the Rules Does Make Life Easier
Trying to navigate the crowds of anonymous people all wandering around in the market was beginning to frustrate me. Their individual features have begun to blend together. I am so glad, I am done searching for that last ingredient which will tie together all aspects of my dinner party.
It took me forever to decide what I wanted to serve. I spoke to all my friends, researched various dishes on the internet and thought long and hard about how each dish would interact with the others.
I followed the recipe list, have all the ingredients now and am standing in the checkout line. I can relax and enjoy the preparations for the evening. I daydream about how wonderful the event will be, everyone happy, enjoying the food and refreshments, the company and conversation.
“I can’t believe she made us stand in line!” I’ve been living in this neighbourhood for 6 years, I paid my taxes.” Words spoken above the din of the registers and voices of the customers broke into my quiet thoughts.
“You’d think by now they would know where I live” a rough voice said behind me.
“I never received one of those card thingy’s” interjected another voice tinged with annoyance. “They certainly don’t make it easy to vote!” “All the rules, the paper work”, “my tax return has all information they need, I don’t understand why I have to register again.” Whined another voice standing further back in the line.
“We stood there wasting our time while all those others were being waved through”. Chimed in the first voice.
Before I knew it I could hear my voice “Excuse me. Are you talking about the election yesterday?”
“Yes” responded the man closest to me. “Some people got cards, we didn’t and had to wait around to be registered”. “It just stupid, they have all my information, they know where I live, at least they do when it comes time for me to pay taxes.” “They’d find me fast enough if I didn’t pay.” He chuckled.
I looked him in the eyes, I could see he was one of the uncooperative people who don’t help out the census survey workers. Yes, I saw many people like this as I walked all those miles, all those days, trying to get all the information I was tasked to obtain. Consider, I was not allowed to turn in my sheets, until I collected information from at least 99% of the households in my area. Meaning I had to return to a non-reporting household 14 or 15 times, even then most likely walking away empty handed. Yes, I know this person. I can hear it in his voice and see it in his face.
I smile sweetly, the way only an old woman can. “Your taxes have nothing to do with the election.” “The reason you were standing in the registration line, most likely, is because you were missed during the last Census. If you weren’t home when the census collector came by or you misplaced the note with the return phone number they left.”
I switched to my, eat your veggies they are good for you, voice. “There are people who are wary of the census, thinking it is a ploy of big brother. You must know that the Municipal, Provincial and Federal Governments aren’t that coordinated. Even though it would serve them well to share the information gathered, they can’t, legally, and don’t have the processes in place to do so.”
I looked from one to the other and gave them my best, I am so disappointed in you, voice. “Can you imagine some people abuse these workers terribly? Should the worker have the unfortunate opportunity to have one of these people actually answer the door, they refuse to answer the survey questions, complain in colourful offensive language, attack the worker personally and slam the door in the poor Census takers face, leaving them to feel the wind of the contempt on their confused face.” “What a shame.”
I continued my quiet tirade, “Unfortunately, when the government can’t collect the most recent information, the old information is used and the people living in these non-reporting households have to go through the registration process to vote. As you had to do yesterday.”
Every single one of the nameless voices standing behind in the line looked at me as if I had spots. One turned away with guilt written all over his face. Nevertheless, in my pleasant old lady way, I proceed to explain the ins and outs of the complex election process. “The information gathered during the census generates the Where to Vote Cards which were issued to the people you saw waived passed you and directed to their designated Polling Station.”
I raised my hands to mime weigh scales, “MMM, 3 minutes answering questions at your front door, or 6 – 8 minutes standing in a line waiting to provide your ID, answering a bunch of questions then standing in a 2nd line to receive your ballot to vote?” My eyes twinkled, “for me it’s a no brainer.
Off in the distance I heard “Ma’m that will be $15.40 please.” Ah, my groceries are ready. I turn around, leave the voices of the line-up, pay my bill and walk on home, happy with myself for speaking up.”
Cheryle May 2015